Imágenes de páginas

from England called him away, and he sailed for Maranham. The city of St. Luiz, which, in commercial language, bears the name of the Island and the State, contains about 12,000 inhabitants, inieluding a much greater proportion of Negroes than is to be found at Pernambuco. This is a thriving place, though the port is pecu, liarly dangerous. Cotton and rice are almost its only articles of export; of the former from 40 to 50,000 bags, averaging about 180 lbs. each, are annually shipped for England. Manuscripts of the latter part of the 17th century say it was the finest cotton at that time known; the Pernambucan is now preferred. It is curious that when the first portion was shipped, some of the inhabitants petitioned that the exportation might not be allowed, lest there should be a want of the article at home; this will appear less extraordinary when it is known that at that time cotton cloth was the common medium of exchange. Sugar was once raised here, and with considerable success; but the planters consumed the stock of Indians within their reach before they were rich enough to purchase Negroes for supplying their place, and thus the Engenhos fell to ruin. An opinion prevails at present that the lands are not adapted for the cane; it has however lately been planted, but as yet melasses only have been made. The Indian slave-trade in this part of America, and the efforts of the Jesuits to mitigate evils which they could not prevent, form an interesting part of Brazilian history. The Indian slavery has long been abolished, but the Jesuits have been abolished also, and the Indians have reason to regret the extinction of an order whose exemplary conduct toward this unhappy race may almost atone for their offences against civil and religious liberty in Europe. Under the administration of Vieyra the Jesuit, (a man who is equally the pride of his Order and his country,) villages of reclaimed Indians were established in every direction,—froin Seara to the mouths of the Orellana, up the great river, and its tributary streams. At present the plantations upon the main land are in danger from the savages, who have even crossed to the island and committed depredations upon the houses in the immediate neighbourhood of St. Luiz. The last who were made prisoners were brought into the town stark naked, and put into close prison in that condition, where they died. The people say that conciliatory means would be of no avail and that rigour is the only method; they who maintain this opinion are as inferior to Vieyra and his brethren in policy as in humanity. At this day the inhabitants of Maranham and Para have the character of treating their Negroes more rigorously than the other inhabitants of Brazil, and slaves of refractory character are sold to this worse slavery from Pernambuco—' Nothing tends so much to keep a slave in ave as the threat of sending him to Maranham or Para.


In the other captaincies Mr. Koster had found governors who exerted their power wisely and beneficently, and obtained the love: of the people by deserving their esteem and gratitude. Maranbam was not so fortunate; nothing was heard there but complaints of oppression, arrogance, and injustice. Every person who passed in front of the palace was to be uncovered, like an undergraduate when the Head of the College happens to be in the quadranglebut with this difference, that in Maranham the respect was exacted for the mere building. The bells of the cathedral rang whenever.. the Governor went out in his carriage ; and like the Emperor Paul, of magnanimous and whimsical memory, he insisted that all persons who met him should stop till he past. The mulatto driver of a wealthy and high-spirited old planter refused to do this.

“The following day an officer came to the old gentleman's house with orders to arrest the man. 'The colonel sent for him and said, “ Go, and I'll take care of you,” adding to the officer, “ Tell his Excellency I have still several other drivers." To the surprise of every person about the prison, two servants made their appearance in the evening with a tray, covered with a cloth which was handsomely embroidered, and filled with the best kind of victuals; sweetineats, &c. were not forgotten. All this was for the driver, and was repeated three times every day until the man received an order for his release.'

The plauters of Maranham must not be indiscriminately censured. Among some of them a benevolent as well as generous spirit is to be found : Mr. Koster relates a curious anecdote which indicates in the one party a consciousness of his own good conduct in the capacity of master, and in the other a proper sense of gratitude for it.

"I heard of a mulatto slave who ran away from his master, and in the course of years had become a wealthy man, by the purchase of lands which were overrun with cattle. He had, on one occasion, collected in pens great numbers of oxen which he was arranging with his herdsmen to dispatch to different parts for sale, when a stranger who came quite alone made his appearance, and rode up and spoke to him, saying that he wished to have some private conversation with him. After a little time they retired together, and when they were alone the owner of the estate said, “ I thank you for not mentioning the connection between us, whilst my people were present.” It was his master, who had fallen into distressed circumstances, and had now made this visit in hopes of obtaining some trifle from him. He said that he should be grateful for any thing his slave chose to give to him. To reclaim him, he.well knew, was out of the question-he was in the man's power, who might order him to be assassinated immediately. The slave gave his master several hundred oxen, and directed some of his men to accompany him with them to a market, giving out among his herdsmen that he had thus paid a debt of old standing for which he had only now


a more

been called upon. A man who could act in this manner well deserved the freedom which he had resolved to obtain.'-(pp. 183, 184.)

Having sailed from Maranham for England, Mr. Koster remained no longer in his own country than while the fine season continued, and flying once more from our inclement winters, reached Pernambuco again at the close of the year. Even during so short an absence a visible change had taken place; the heavy and sombre lattice work had in many instances given place to glass windows and iron varandas,-Lisbon women had set the example of walking to mass in broad day light, and English ones of walking for the sake of air and recreation toward the close of day. These examples were followed, and both sexes were adopting modern form of dress. Many country-houses had been built, brick-making was becoming a lucrative business, lands rose in value; a mile of country which had been covered with brusliwood the preceding year had been cleared for building and for garden ground.

In 1812 Mr. Koster rented a sugar plantation at Jaguaribe, four leagues to the north of Recife. Till he could obtain possession of the Great House, he slung his hammock in the vestry of an unfinished church, to the astonishment of the neighbourhood who marvelled at his unconcern respecting ghosts. The place, however, was infested by formidable realities, of infernal appearance and alarming propensities—the vampire bats. His companion, a negro boy, rolled himself up at night like a Bologna saussage in a piece of baize and a mat, and was thus cased securely; the master lay in his hammock, and these real harpies frequently perched upon it, without the previous salutation of fee faw fum, but sinelling the blood of a living man, and coming for the chance of a toe or a finger:'

During his residence here a motley crew of Indians, mulattos, free negroes and slaves were collected for the season on the lands of the plantation; some of them, free labourers, brought their families; there were mud huts for a few, the others erected hovels of palm leaves. The description which he gives of his dwelling, his feelings, and the situation in which he was now placed is idteresting in no common degree.

I had now taken up my abodę at the house which was usually inhabited by the owner or tenant ; this was a low but long mud cottage, covered with tiles and white-washed within and without; it had bricked floors, but no ceiling. There were two apartments of tolerable dimensions, several small rooms and a kitchen. The chief entrance was from a sort of square, formed by the several buildings belonging to the estate. In front was the chapel; to the left was a large dwelling-house unfinished, and the negro huts, a long row of small babitations, having much the appearance of alms-houses, without the neatness of places of this description in England; to the right was the mill worked by water,


and the warehouse or barn in which the sugar undergoes the process of claying; and to the view of these buildings may be added the pens for the cattle, the carts, heaps of tiiber, and a small pond through which the water runs to the mill. At the back of the house was the large open field, the mill dam beyond, and cottages, mandioc lands and trees along the valley, bordered on each side by steep hills covered with thick woods.

Oftentimes I have sat at night upon the threshold of the door, after all my people had retired to their habitations; they have supposed that I was asleep; then I have heard the whisperings in the negro huts, and have observed some one leave his house, and steal away to visit an ac. quaintance, residing at some distance; or there has been some feast or merry-making, thus late at night, thus concealed. Neighbouring negroes have been invited, and have crept in during the evening unperceived. It is on these occasions that plans for deceiving the master are contrived; in these sweet unpermitted meetings, the schemes are formed. Then the slave owner who is aware of such secret practices, and reflects, must feel of how little avail are all his regulations, all his good management. Restraint creates the wish to act contrary to given rules. The slave has a natural bias to deceive him who holds him in subjection. A man may love the master whom he may at pleasure leave; but to be tied down, and as a duty enjoined to esteem, fails not in most instances to rouse contrary feelings, to awaken a sense of pleasure rather than of pain, in counteracting the wishes, and in rendering nugatory the determinations of him who commands.

"At other times far different ideas from these have occupied my mind; I have thought of the strange life I was leading; a remembrance of feudal times in Europe has crossed me, and I could not forbear comparing with them the present state of the interior of Brazil. The great power of the planter, not only over his slaves, but his authority over the free persons of lower rank; the respect which is required by these Barons from the free inhabitants of their lands*; the assistance which they expect from their tenants in case of insult from a neighbouring equal; the dependance of the peasants, and their wish to be under the peculiar protection of a person of wealth who is capable of relieving them from any oppression, and of speaking in their behalf to the

* On Saturdays only, throughout the courtry, are cattle slaughtered; and thus weekly many persons of each neighbourhood assemble, as much to converse and hear the news as to purchase their portion of meat. On one of these occasions, a young man of colour was stooping to arrange upon the end of his walking-stick the meat which he had bought, at the moment that a person of considerable power was riding up. The man of importance, when he came upar to the young mulatto, struck him with a long cane with which he rode, saying “ Why don't you take off your hat when a white man appears ?” The blow was felt severely, and still more severely answered. The man of colour drew his knife, and quickly turning round, ran it hilt deep into the groin of hina by whom he had been insulted ; and then with the bloody knife in his hand, he ran oif, vowing destruction upon any one who touched him. The rich man had only time before he died, to direct that the murderer should not be pursued, owning that his own impetuous tyranny had deservedly produced this catastrophe, The young man returned in a few weeks to his former home, and was not molested by the relatives of him whom he had murdered, nor did the law take cognizance of the deed.'


governor, or to the chief judge; all these circumstances combined, tend to render the similarity very great. I even felt the power which had unintentionally fallen into my hands. I had collected a considerable number of free workmen, and the estate was respected for miles round. Many of these fellows would have committed almost any crime under the impression that my protection would screen them; and if I had not turned some away, and threatened others that I would aid the law rather than evade it, should their proceedings be irregular, I know not what evil deeds might not have followed.'pp. 222-225.

Not far from Jaguaribe a new church was building to Our Lady of the (); an appellation strange enough to be worthy of an explanatory note when Mr. Koster shall reprint his book. It is derived, according to one opinion, from the marriage-ring given to the Virgin by the First Person in the Trinity. There is a sermon of Vieyra's in honour of N. Senhora do 0; he preached it in his youth, and he printed it in his old age, after an interval of four and forty years: it was approved by the censors of the press, and licensed by the provincial of his Order, and by the inquisition : but the man must be far gone in the school of Voltaire who could insult the decency of a British public, by following him through his explanations of the name. The probable origin of the name is sufficiently ludicrous. The feast of Our Lady under this invocation is celebrated on the 18th of December, and called the Expectation of the Virgin, being intended to commemorate the joy with which on that day she had looked forward to the Nativity. The patriarchs in limbo were at the same time expecting the birth of their deliverer with equal joy; Oh! is among the interjections of joy as well as of sorrow; and in imitation of these joyful aspirations in earth and in limbo, it was customary for every one, in the quire after the vesper prayer, to sing 0 0, in what key he pleased. Čayrasco, who has written a poetical Flos Sanctorum, when he comes to this day, makes all the Virtues join hand, and form a per-. fect round O in its honour. This Lady enjoys such celebrity in Pernambuco, that when her church was to be built, the landholders contended who should have the auspicious edifice upon his ground, and the matter was determined by lot. Chance determined as ill as the most injudicious choice could have done, fixing upon the lowest piece of land in the neighbourhood, within three hundred yards of a shore upon which the sea is constantly encroaching, and precisely in the very direction where it encroaches fastest. The same lot however was drawn thrice, a fact which looks as if a little pious subornation had been practised by the owner of the land ;--a spring gushed forth when the foundations were dug, which of course possesses miraculous virtues, and salt which is not less sovereign for inward and outward maladies oozes from the wall against which the

« AnteriorContinuar »